This Week In Hoops: February 8

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to basketball season. If you were around these parts last year, you remember our weekly feature: This Week in Hoops. It’s changed a bit, but the essence is the same. If you’re new to Palestra Back, TWIH is a helpful guide to the recent goings on in the world of basketball. If something happens on the hardwood, you’ll hear about it here. 

The Biggest Story in Basketball

As odd as this may sound, The Biggest Story in Basketball is, in fact, a non-story.

Blake Griffin broke his hand punching his buddy, the team equipment manager. Somehow this lead to stories about him being traded and two teams (the Nuggets and Sixers) inquiring about his availability.

The most likely scenario here is that Griffin is not available for trade and two of the league’s more star-hungry franchises were just following through with their due diligence after hearing whispers about Griffin.

But let’s allow ourselves to consider a reality in which Griffin is available, or the Clippers are at least listening to what other teams have to say. The trade deadline is merely ten days away and every team that is not the Warriors or Spurs is looking at needing to topple at least one historically successful team in order to win a title. Cleveland is probably grateful that whichever team they could face in the Finals would be coming off the slog of battling Western Conference foes. Oklahoma City is quietly getting better and better, thinking themselves capable of a championship run.

The next tier of contenders find themselves in a weird place. Barring injuries, the Clippers are not escaping a Western Conference with Golden State, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City playing their best. The Toronto Raptors or Chicago Bulls are probably not beating LeBron and company AND upsetting the Warriors or Spurs.

So what do they do?

They could just give it the college try and say “aw, shucks” when they are sent packing from the playoffs, but why do that?

Two other routes are more likely:

  1. Go all in on right now. Trade every asset you have for something or someone that can make you more capable of competing for the 2016 title. Chris Paul and Pau Gasol aren’t getting any younger, so their teams will want to make a move before the window slams shut.
  2. Punt. Now, punting, in a football sense, is not necessarily giving up. The Clippers, or other mid-top teams, could see a lane that improves their chances of winning in 2017 or 2018 by leveraging their current roster into one that has a higher ceiling in the coming years.

Conventional wisdom says Griffin isn’t going anywhere. The Clippers, however, may not be abiding by conventional wisdom. They might be leaning more towards “A gambler down to his last stack of chips at the blackjack table” wisdom, which means nothing is off the table.

Basketball is Fun!

With all of the hot takes and super serious basketball related opinions out there, it’s important to remember that this is a game being played and watched for fun. Every week we’ll highlight something on the lighter side of the hoops world. 

Being Steph Curry must be great. Being one of the other Warrior is also pretty great, but has its drawbacks. Just ask Harrison Barnes:

Essential Reading

All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball. 

Palestra Back this week: A rundown of the major conference Player of the Year races

More from me, at Rush The Court: I wrote about how Texas A&M might be the perfect team to survive this wild season of parity. Then they lost twice this week!

Good ol’ Woj detailed the terrifying prospect of Kevin Durant joining the Warriors this summer.

Drew Jubera profiled one of America’s youngest basketball phenoms and dove into the recruiting of players starting earlier and earlier.

And this Alex Siquig story about the 1996 Bulls travelling through time to play the Warriors is a lot of fun.

Rank Shots

May the Tuesday Top Tens rest in pieces. Long live Rank Shots! If you’re not familiar, this is where we rank the best teams in the NBA, college basketball, and rank another totally irrelevant something.

NBA:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. Toronto Raptors
  6. Los Angeles Clippers

College Basketball

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Iowa
  3. Maryland
  4. Villanova
  5. North Carolina
  6. Iowa State
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Kansas
  9. Michigan State
  10. Virginia
  11. Miami (FL)

The Worst Mornings to Wake Up For Work

East Coast edition.

  1. Super Bowl Monday
  2. First day back after vacation
  3. First day back after Christmas/New Year’s
  4. Monday after Thanksgiving
  5. The first day at work after you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
  6. July ___th (the Monday/Tuesday after Independence Day weekend)
  7. Tuesdays after Labor/Memorial Day
  8. The day following the NBA Draft
  9. The Tuesday after the NCAA National Championship game (“One Shining Moment” happens so late)
  10. “I really thought this snow was going to be bad enough that I wouldn’t have to go to work.”

Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now

He was an entertainer.

Games To Watch This Week

Monday

NCAA: #19 Louisville at Duke (7 PM/ESPN)

Tuesday

NBA: Spurs at Heat (8 PM/TNT), Rockets at Warriors (10:30/TNT)

NCAA: #14 West Virginia at #7 Iowa State (7 PM/ESPN2), Pitt at Miami (7 PM/ESPNU),  #10 Michigan State at #18 Purdue (7 PM/ESPN)

Wednesday

NCAA: LSU at #25 South Carolina (7 PM/ESPN2), #11 Providence at Marquette (7 PM/CBSSN)

Thursday

NBA: Pelicans at Thunder (8 PM/TNT)

NCAA: #5 Iowa at #22 Indiana (9 PM/ESPN), #16 Oregon at Cal (9 PM/ESPN2)

Iowa can essentially lock-up the Big Ten regular season title wit a win in Bloomington.

Friday

NCAA: UCLA at #23 Arizona (9 PM/ESPN)

Saturday

NBA: All-Star Saturday Night!

NCAA: #20 Kentucky at #25 South Carolina (Noon/ESPN)

#8 Texas A&M at LSU (1 PM/CBS)

#7 Kansas at #1 Oklahoma (2:30/ESPN)

trumpet baer

#6 Xavier at Butler (2:30/FOX)

#9 Virginia at Duke (4:30/ESPN)

Gonzaga at #10 SMU (10 PM/ESPN2)

Sunday

NBA: The All-Star Game! (8 PM/TNT)

NCAA: #22 Indiana at #10 Michigan State (1 PM/CBS), Pitt at #2 UNC (1 PM/ESPN)

Enjoy the games, folks. 

(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops will end with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here.)

**

Header Image via Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com.

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